14 February 2013

Ghana: Bullets Fly High Over La Stool Lands - As Land Guards Come Face-to-Face With La Youth in Hollywood Style

What was meant to be a peaceful demonstration and inspection of stool lands exercise embarked upon by the people of La, at Katamanso, later turned to be a fierce battle between the custodians and some land guards, illegally recruited by some unknown estate developers to protect the area.

The La Traditional Council, aggrieved by encroachers on their land, yesterday took the bull by the horn to inspect the various demarcated boundaries of their land and that of other stool lands, when the unfortunate incident happened in the full glare of armed Policemen.

While inspecting the lands, some land guards, numbering about five and riding on motorbikes, suddenly came from nowhere, and wielding double barreled guns started firing warning shots in an attempt to disperse the demonstrating crowd.

Their assault did not, however, scare off the demonstrating crowd, especially the youth, thereby provoking the land guards to turn their attention to the aged among them.

In an attempt to run for cover, one of the traditional priests of La, Agbapue Atse, believed to be in his late seventies was knocked down by one of the motorcycles of the land guards, after which he was subjected to severe beatings.

This inflamed the anger of the demonstrating crowd who vented their anger on the Police, detailed to the area to maintain peace and order.

The Police, sensing danger about what might happen to the traditional priest, immediately responded by giving the land guards a hot chase, leading to the arrest of one of the rampaging land guards.

The rescued Agbapue Atse was then taken to a nearby clinic where he was treated and discharged.

The Adentan Police Command, Deputy Superintendent of Police S.K. Ahiasafo, when contacted on the matter denied the encounter with the land guards and the people of La.

According to him, he was in bed at dawn when he received the information that La youth were in the bush at Katamanso and gearing up for a demonstration exercise.

He said the youth of La had earlier written to his outfit, calling for assistance to embark on a peaceful demonstration exercise, but when they were invited for discussions on a possible date for the said exercise, their leaders declined to honour the invitation.

He averred that when the news came that the La youth had converged at Katamanso, he quickly ordered his men to the scene to maintain peace and order.

According to DSP Ahiasafo, when returning from the scene with his men, he received information that one of the demonstrators had been kidnapped, but was not sure who the perpetrators were.

He told The Chronicle that moments after receiving the information, he again ordered some his men to the scene, where a search and rescue exercise was conducted to rescue Agbapue Atse.

He said his outfit has launched an investigation into the matter to unravel the perpetrators behind the heinous crime.

But Spokesperson for the demonstrating crowd, WOI (rtd) Rcihard Nixon Tetteh was not convinced about the narration given by the Police command when contacted on his mobile handset.

According to him, the incident happened in the full glare of the Police who took no action to reprimand the land guards. He described the action of the Police as suspicious.

"The action of the Police is ridiculous and suspicious. How can you sit down unconcerned and watch land guards brutalizing innocent Ghanaians?" he quarried.

He had earlier told journalists at a media briefing in the midst of the demonstrating crowd that their action had become very necessary since Japan Motors, despite a court injunction restraining them from the said piece of land, together with Regimanuel Gray, Castle Gate Estate developers, as well as some companies were encroaching on their land.

"We have tolerated these acts of disrespect towards our rights for far too long and by this meeting, we have decided that enough is enough and these acts of disrespect must stop.

"This time, we have decided to take our destiny into our own hands. It is our belief that should we lose control over the last parcel of our land, that will surely mark the end of the last La man, woman or child. We cannot allow this to happen," noted WOI Tetteh.

The demonstrators were displaying placards, some which read; 'Nii Afotey Agbo, Please leave our land for us'; 'Japan Motors go back to Japan' and build there'; 'Regimanuel respect La land, please'; 'Prez. Mahama we don't want land guard as Greater Accra Regional Minister'; 'Prez. Mahama, your minister is stealing La lands', among many others.

According to WOI Tetteh, since all appeals to the government and the security agencies have failed, the people of La have decided to act as Police and guard their own lands.

He called on President John Dramani Mahama to reprimand, Nii Afotey Agbo, whom he described his retention as the Greater Accra Regional Minister, as a slap in the face of the La people.

WOI Tetteh also urged the government to take steps to pay compensation due the La people for the several acquisitions of their lands which have still not been paid for.

He later turned the heat on Regimanuel Gray and other estate developers that "for as long as they refuse to pass through due procedure to acquire our lands, they shall not have peace."

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